C2 plays its aces on asphalt... Like their WRC elders, the "FIA Junior" return to asphalt action in Germany, a surface on which they haven't competed since January's Monte Carlo Rally which was won by the British C2 Super 1600 driver Kris ...
C2 plays its aces on asphalt...
Like their WRC elders, the "FIA Junior" return to asphalt action in Germany, a surface on which they haven't competed since January's Monte Carlo Rally which was won by the British C2 Super 1600 driver Kris Meeke.
As usual, the C2 Super 1600s entered for Dani Sordo -- who is 2nd in the championship, 4 points behind Guy Wilks -- and Kris Meeke -- currently 5th -- will be in the capable hands of Team Kronos Racing. Young Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach, who prepared for Germany by taking part in the Michelin Budapest Rally, will have a new, P.H. Sport-built C2.
The C2, which competed on dirt for the first time this year, has posted remarkable performances on the loose with two wins from three rounds in the hands of Spain's Dani Sordo, winner in Sardinia and Finland.
At the same time, Citroën Sport's Customer Competition team has been busy working on the asphalt spec C2 Super 1600. At the mid-May test session in the east of France before the Rallye Alsace-Vosges, this work was shared by Kris Meeke and Freddy Loix who was preparing for the Ypres 24 Hours.
A second session was later organised, this time with Kris and Dani taking turns at the wheel. "We were fortunate to have rain," smiles Alexis Avril, Customer Competition Technical Manager. "This means the C2 Super 1600 has run in all the types of weather we are likely to come across in Germany and we found some interesting things technically. The asphalt spec C2 obviously benefits from much of the progress that has been made with the gravel version. Its weight distribution, for example. We have worked on such typical asphalt points as the cooling and braking, while at the same time continuing to optimise the reliability of the peripherals. Last but not least, we established a basic set-up for Germany which includes the new shock absorbers homologated on August 1st. It's looking good, especially since we have two very quick drivers!"
Raised on asphalt as well as on the loose, Kris Meeke proved his ability on tar first time out with the C2 Super 1600 in Catalonia in 2004, and then on the Monte Carlo Rally (four fastest times). Dani Sordo, who has adapted to gravel remarkably quickly, was brought up on asphalt. Like Kris, he drove a C2 (not a JWRC entry) in Catalonia in 2004 (three fastest Super 1600 times) before claiming the car's maiden outright win in the 2004 Costa del Sol Rally. He currently lies 2nd in the Spanish asphalt series thanks to two wins from the five rounds he has contested so far, finishing 2nd in the three others. He also has previous experience of the Deutschland Rally following his participation in the Group N category in the 2004 event.
Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton has complete faith in the potential of both the drivers and the car: "Whether you're running in the WRC or the JWRC, the Deutschland Rally isn't easy for anyone. Even so, we will need to be on the offensive. If Dani and Kris succeed in keeping out of trouble, the C2 Super 1600 could take them clear of Guy Wilks and P.G. Andersson, their closest rivals in the JWRC..."
Questions to Dani Sordo...
You were a loose surface novice at the start of the season, yet you now have two JWRC wins on gravel under your belt... on events that were both new to you. How do you explain your success?
"It's a combination of things. Above all, I feel comfortable with the C2 whatever the surface. The car is agile, efficient, responsive and competitive, and I try to push it as far as I can both in testing and on events. There is also my relationship with Marc [Marti]. He has brought his considerable experience to the table and knows when I need to be calmed down. Finally, I have to thank everyone in Alexis Avril's Customer Competition team and at Team Kronos Racing for all the work they put in both before and after events..."
You competed in the Deutschland Rally for the first time last year when you finished 5th in Group N, scoring one fastest stage time. What do you remember of that experience?
"Carlos and Marc say Germany is quite a special event but they don't really like it. The event has three different types of asphalt and the weather is very changeable, which makes it an awesome prospect for competitors. Personally, I enjoyed it last year... driving a four-wheel drive Group N car. The C2 will clearly call for a different approach. If the going is slippery, then it could be quite tricky. When grip is at a premium like that, a two-wheel drive car is obviously more delicate to drive! I will need to be on my guard, especially when braking and in places where the surface changes..."
The event marks the Junior championship's return to asphalt. You have good experience of this type of surface. What sort of result are you looking for and what will your tactics be to achieve that objective?
"My objective is to finish on the podium if possible. For that, it will be necessary to keep up a good pace without making any mistakes. As I say, the weather could make life difficult for us. I will begin Day 1 at my own pace and then adapt depending on how I stand..."
...and to Kris Meeke.
How do you analyse your performance in Finland?
"It was a very frustrating event for me! Everyone makes a point of getting it right and I made a mistake. On the Friday, we proved that the car was very competitive and that we were quick. Unfortunately, I got the note for one particular corner wrong during recce. My speed and corner angle were correct, but not the line. Going off was tough, both for the team and for us. I was in the lead and my mistake probably cost me victory. But I intend to learn from the incident, especially concerning my note taking. The positive thing is that the C2 is competitive and was the car to beat in Finland."
You took part in asphalt testing with the C2 Super 1600. How do you find the car going into the Deutschland Rally?
"I spent two days testing in Alsace two weeks before Finland. Everything went well and we were able to test a number of evolutions, mainly concerning to the shock absorbers. We also worked on the set-up and, at the end of the session, I felt very confident with the C2 which is very easy to drive."
Have you ever competed in the Deutschland Rally and what has your mentor Colin McRae told you about it?
"This will be my first time actually competing in the Deutschland Rally, although I did the recce two years ago and that gave me a bit of an idea. My co-driver Glenn did the event last year. Colin says it's a rally with numerous changes of grip and that the weather conditions can cause havoc. It's also technically challenging with stages that can be very dirty. I just mustn't make any mistakes. I feel confident in the car and the team. I will just have to work hard, notably during recce, so as to reduce the risk of error."